Flamers and scammers and trolls...oh my!
Frankenstein's Monster Experiment II, stitches and coloring (In Hiding Contemplation)
Originally uploaded by DerrickT.
She was very upset about this, and of course I and other loyal commenters reassured her that the guy was an asshole. So far, so good--no more nastiness from the jerk-off today.
As luck would have it, earlier that day I'd checked out a few sites that dealt with internet flamers and trolls. Awhile back, I myself had a very lively Shithouse flamefest that I must admit I actually enjoyed. In essence, I was provoked; I responded in kind; and the whole thing developed into a full fledged, four alarm cyber-fire. However, In retrospect I must admit that I was not completely blameless, and had perhaps even provoked the whole thing myself in a way. But I vowed when I started this site that I would not delete nasty comments, but instead would try to have fun with them.
I mentioned in a recent post that a number of bloggers have quit their sites lately. In at least one instance, a very popular blogger decided to give it up because of some commenters who were baiting her. Thing is, the vast majority of her readers loved her, so it puzzled me that she would let a few trolls chase her off. But online assholes can be so disturbing that some people would just rather not deal with them, period. I'd once been badly flamed on a bipolar support group site, and it was not pretty, so I know how disturbing it can be to get cyber-burned.
Another interesting aspect of all this is the varying definitions of what a troll is. Over at The Conservative's Conservative, blogger Eddie's views are quite provacative, and it seems only natural that he might get a dissenting comment or two from those with a more liberal bent. Though I don't read him often, I get the impression that he is not very adept at handling any opposing viewpoints. Moreover, his regulars are as intolerant and scathing as he is, if not more so. When a few people wrote in disagreeing with him--and not in a nasty way--they were accused of being trolls. One or two commenters said: Why would you read or comment on a blog you don't agree with?
I daresay some liberal blogs are guilty of the same. But there is a difference between ad hominem attacks and spirited discussion, is there not? Well, you know what they say--never discuss politics or religion...
(By the way, I just took another glance at Eddie's blog, and up top it says "Deep thoughts of a proud right winger- Not a debate forum, please don't waste your time." I don't know if it always said this; I suspect it was added at some later point. Well, at least he's made his position clear, and it IS his blog).
One reason flamers and trolls proliferate on the web is because of its virtual and often anonymous nature. People are emboldened to say things to strangers that they would never dare to say to someone face to face. One might say that a darker side of their personality comes out--perhaps a side that no one offline even knows about.
Which brings to mind a potentially dangerous species of internet nuisance-- bloggers who lie and deceive under cover of the web. Walker posted a very sobering and downright scary story awhile back about a friend of his who met up with a guy online who wound up brutally raping her. I'm sure I need not recount all the examples of perverts trolling for underage kids, but perhaps Walker might provide a link to the post that dealt with this issue. Walker cautions--and I agree--that one should think long and hard before posting photos of yourself, your kids, when you're going on vacation, and other intimate details on your website. There are just too many stalkers and wackos who might very well show up on your doorstep one fine day.
Here's a slightly less sinister example. Although I and many others ususally take what bloggers say about themselves at face value and readily sympathize with their situations and problems, once in awhile I remind myself that people can concoct tales that may not be true or are very one-sided. (Of course, most bloggers will be biased to some degree, since there are always two sides to every story, blah blah blah). Without getting into detail lest I be labeled a heartless, cynical bitch, the most cogent recent example is a young female blogger that a fellow blogpal steered me to.
Based on her latest post, she seemed ultra depressed--perhaps suicidal--and being mentally ill myself, I (and others) tried to leave supportive comments. But after reading through her archives, something seemed very hinky to me. She complained about her depression and hopelessness, but was ultra resistant to taking meds. She claimed to be bored, yet the drama in her life (including a brand new hubby and kids from a prior relationship) seemed to me enough to stave off ennui, if not despair. For someone in such desperate straits, she seemed inordinately concerned about her blog design and popularity. Further posts fueled my suspicion that she was basically looking for attention and diversion, and neither posessed nor desired insight into how to take some responsibility for her own problems. Not to say she isn't ill, but I think her readers were probably, at least to some extent, duped.
In any case, my trolling for trolls finally led me to a great link:a brillant website by Mike Reed called Flame Warriors which offers a hilariously astute illustrated gallery of all the myriad "species" of flamers out there. It's well, well worth a look.
Lest you think I'm exempting myself here, I'm sure that by the time I finish looking through all the categories, I'll find lots of bits of myself in at least a few of the subspecies. The author of the site himself admits as much.
So what do you guys think about online assholes? Have you ever been guilty of provoking a blog fight, intentionally or not? Posted comments you're not proud of? Ever find yourself sucked into an online argument to the point of blind outrage and incivility? How do you react when you get a negative comment on your blog--do you delete it, ignore it, or counterattack? In other words, what sets you off and what do you do about it?
And last but not least: have you ever thought of just throwing in the towel and quitting your blog because of some cyber-jerks? I'd just love to know!
Technorati tags: flaming, trolls, blog fights, flamers, Mike Reed, Flame Warriors, blog scams.